GOP coun­cil can­di­dates talk plat­forms

Top­ics in­cluded in­for­ma­tion about their re­la­tion­ship with the Repub­li­can party, chal­lenger’s in­volve­ment with the county, short-term rentals, bud­get amend­ment and im­prove­ment in schools.

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By CHRISTINA ACOSTA ca­costa@ches­pub.com

— Repub­li­can can­di­dates for Tal­bot County Coun­cil and the state leg­is­la­ture out­lined their plat­forms and an­swered au­di­ence ques­tions dur­ing a Thurs­day fo­rum at the county agri­cul­tural cen­ter.

The fo­rum in­cluded in­cum­bents Jen­nifer Wil­liams, Corey Pack, Laura Price, Chuck Cal­la­han, and chal­lengers Frank Divilio and Lisa Ghezzi.

First, the can­di­dates in­tro­duced them­selves to a crowd of an es­ti­mated 30 peo­ple and added what made them a great can­di­date for Tal­bot County Coun­cil. Top­ics in­cluded in­for­ma­tion about their re­la­tion­ship with the Repub­li­can party, chal­lenger’s in­volve­ment with the county, short-term rentals, bud­get amend­ment and im­prove­ment in schools.

The top­ics were mod­er­ated by Ni­cholas Panuzio, chair­man of the Tal­bot County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee.

“It’s a great ser­vice to the Repub­li­can vot­ers to come out tonight, and ask us ques­tions,” said Wil­liams, “Tal­bot County has some of the best peo­ple work­ing for it that I have ever worked with in my en­tire life. We are blessed in Tal­bot County to have the qual­ity of peo­ple do­ing the jobs they do for us each and ev­ery day.”

Panuzio first asked the can­di­dates if they had al­ways been Repub­li­can; a ma­jor­ity of them said yes. In or­der to get the chal­lengers’ feet wet, Panuzio asked both Ghezzi and Divilio what or­ga­ni­za­tions they were in­volved in and pas­sion­ate about.

The ques­tions then led to the is­sues in­clud­ing short­term leases and how they can af­fect the county both pos­i­tively and neg­a­tively. There are cur­rently 160 regis­tered rentals with only 2-3 rentals with ma­jor com­plaints in Tal­bot County.

The county is mak­ing ad­just­ments to build a stronger short term rental board by hir­ing a code com­pli­ance of­fi­cer who will as­sist with the topic. The county also is work­ing with ads on the in­ter­net, and part of the re­quire­ments is that if you have a short-term prop­erty in the county, you have to post your li­cense num­ber in the ads.

Some can­di­dates said they sup­port short term rentals for Tal­bot County to in­crease tourism.

The 2013 re­port, The Eco­nomic Im­pact of Tourism in Mary­land, states that in Tal­bot County, the num­ber of visi­tors in­creased by nine per­cent from 2008 to 2012, with the stead­i­est gains in day vis­its; An­nual tourism rev­enues grew to over $170.2 mil­lion in 2012, from $157 mil­lion in 2008. Tourism gen­er­ated over 13% of la­bor in­come at $55.9 mil­lion and 13.8% of all em­ploy­ment with 1,760 jobs.

Coun­cil­woman Price did sup­port it, how­ever, had reser­va­tions about it.

“I am for short-term rentals, how­ever, I don’t want this to hurt neigh­bor­hoods. That is what we have heard so much is that the peo­ple next door to you, you don’t know who they are,” said Price. “I think all of the en­force­ment things are key be­cause half are licensed and half are not. I think that once we get the en­force­ment in place, we might ac­tu­ally see the com­plaints go up be­cause some peo­ple might ask, ‘why com­plain, if there is no en­force­ment be­hind it?’ I pre­fer some­one who has roots in Tal­bot County or part-time. I think col­lect­ing that ac­com­mo­da­tion tax is key.”

The next topic in­cluded school fund­ing. Coun­cil­man Pack and Cal­la­han wanted the in­creas­ing the fund­ing for ed­u­ca­tion be­cause they wanted it to go to the teach­ers and more re­sources for the stu­dents.

Tal­bot County schools are funded less than any other school sys­tem, over $2000 per stu­dent in or­der for the county to come to the mid­point in the en­tire state. Tal­bot County would have to add nine mil­lion dol­lars in the school boards bud­get, which would rank them in the mid­dle, some­thing Wil­liams does not want to see for stu­dents.

“There is no way we can do that, the school fund­ing for­mula for the state is out of whack, it’s very con­vo­luted and it pe­nal­izes Tal­bot County,” Wil­liams said. “We get less dol­lars per stu­dent than any other county in the state from the state. The county last year was num­ber five high­est county in the state in per pupil fund­ing, and we are still below the bot­tom of the pack for ev­ery other county. It is un­fair to pe­nal­ize our stu­dents be­cause the state pe­nal­izes them.”

With the topic of ed­u­ca­tion in mind, Mimi Gedaumu in­tro­duced her­self as a can­di­date run­ning for the 37B del­e­gate seat. She fol­lowed the sen­ti­ment from the Tal­bot County can­di­dates when it comes to the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem with a mis­sion for im­prove­ment, if elected.

“I’m from the East­ern Shore and I am proud to be a part of the East­ern Shore,” said Gedamu. “I want to build a fu­ture chil­dren could be proud of; and teach­ers and par­ents are the most im­por­tant peo­ple when it comes to ed­u­cat­ing our kids.”

In­cum­bent Del. Johnny Mautz (R-37B-Tal­bot) also ap­peared at the fo­rum stat­ing the im­por­tance of re­elect­ing him for his post. “No­body works harder and no­body cares more.”

The pri­mary elec­tion will be held June 26, with early vot­ing June 14 to 21. The gen­eral elec­tion is Nov. 6, with early vot­ing from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the can­di­dates’ con­tact in­for­ma­tion and so­cial me­dia plat­forms, log onto the Tal­bot County Elec­tion Board web­site at http:// www.tal­bot­coun­tymd.gov/

PHO­TOS BY CHRISTINA ACOSTA

Mimi Gedamu, Repub­li­can can­di­date for 37B del­e­gate, lis­tens to can­di­dates speak dur­ing the Repub­li­can fo­rum on Thurs­day.

From left, Tal­bot County Coun­cil can­di­date Lisa Ghezzi, coun­cil­woman Laura Price, can­di­date Frank Divilio, coun­cil­man Chuck Cal­la­han, vice-pres­i­dent Corey Pack and pres­i­dent Jen­nifer Wil­liams at the Repub­li­can Fo­rum on Thurs­day.

PHOTO BY CHRISTINA ACOSTA

The fo­rum is mod­er­ated by Tal­bot County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ni­cholas Panuzio.

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